The things you own end up owning you.

Scenes from distorted Mentalities – The Case of Önder Sav

Scenes from distorted mentalities will be a series of discourse analysis of leading figures of Turkish society and other individuals from around the world. We wil start the series with Önder Sav, the General Secretary of the Republican People’s Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi – Genel Sekreteri). Mr. Sav came to the forefront of the Turkish media following his comments to an elderly party supporter whom he met during a visit to the Elmadag district of Ankara. During the visit the old men came near to Mr. Sav and who  him that he is planning to go to Saudi Arabia to fulfil his religious duties, one of the five fundamentals of Islam, the Hac or the Pilgrimage. Mr. Sav told in front of the cameras to his fellow party comrade

– The old man(1): I have the intention of going to Hac.  Haciya niyetlendim

– Önder Sav: Haciya mi? Boş ver, Araplara para kaptırma – To the Hac? Never mind, don’t get your money snatched by the Arabs, …

– The old man: Niye, yani yasim 80’e gidiyor, bir ayagim cukurda.  Why? I mean I am coming to the age of 80, one of my foot is already in the grave.

-Önder Sav: Bakarsin, Muhammet birakmaz seni, sen yine sey yapma. Who know, maybe Mohammed will not let you come back, you again, dont do

– The old man: Ne edelim yani birakmazsa, Dünya isleri böyle. What if he doesnt let me back, so is this world’s rules.

Once we look at the video (sorry I was not able to find a nuetral video which only shows the dialogues without commentary, however please try to focus on the body language of both men) we see a typical party visit to a municipality governed by the CHP. We can see the party officials, in their extreme bureaucratic manners, maybe because they know that there are cameras inside and try to pose their best. If this is their best, we can discern a typical CHP member, disconnected from the entire world and disconnected from his own people.  A distanced elitism. What is more striking is the old man in the room.

We learn from the Turkish media that his name is Mustafa, or as the Turkish media names him “Mustafa Amca – Uncle Mustafa”, he is 80 years old and surely a well-known sympathic figure of the party sympathisans. We can see in the video the governor of Elmadag, a slightly fat man, who has in contrast to Önder Sav, a relatively provincial suit, more colourful, with a completely different stance to the old man. He listens him with a smile, and a respect to his age.  We can speculate that the governor himself invited him to the meeting with the highest echelons of the party, where he knows will be cameraman and the media. This was a photo opportunity, like a Stalinist episode, the distanced cool leader meets with the simple man. He listens him carefully and also a signal to the media, you see our supporters are the people. The old man definitely has a rural clothing, a symbol of the Turkish peasant a hat, skirt but no tie and a pullover.
The old man is also more relax than Önder Sav. He leans towards Mr. Sav and talks in a friendly manner, whereas Mr. Sav is cemented on his chair, avoiding eye contact with the old man, his hand in his chin poses like a deeply thinking, personality. Mr. Sav in one point whilst the old man tries to hold his hand, (which is a typical gesture in Anatolia, holdign someone’s hand whilst explaining something which might cause misunderstandings, in my opinion the holding of the hand, the transmission of the heat through the palms is indeed a signal of friendship a symbol of showing that his words are not attacks but friendly ideas)  automatically takes his hand back in an angry manner and clumsily searching for his chin. The old man is a shocked through this refusal of friendship and tries to explain his problem or idea in a friendly manner and telling Sav that he is already 80 and the age of death is coming.

Mr. Sav’s stance towards the old man and his ideas about Islam, Arabs and Prophet Mohammed is also phenomenal. Of course everybody has the right to tell what they think freely, of course it is good that they do not mask themselves and talk openly even in the presence of cameras and the media. However, there are some certain parts of the human life, which are open to interpretations of diverse types, or inflamatory happenings. Religion or in the Turkish context Islam is one of this no-touch areas, a country which proudly declates that %99 of the population beleives in Islam. Furthermore, in the aftermath of the Denmark comics episodes on Prophet Mohammed, we also saw that the vast majority of the Turkish populace, no matter on the right or the left of the political panorama refuses such comments and openly declares their unease.

This is the crux of the matter, Mr. Sav did not appologise in the aftermath of his words, he hide from the cameras for a week and then came out with the asparagas news on the telephone wiring scandal. In an amateur way the high command of the RPP introduced this theme into the media and escalated the tension that there is surely a bug in the RPP centre or even a mobile station who is spying from near distance into the room of the Party’s General Secretary, this also passed to the general atmopshere of telephone tappings in Turkey. This is the dilemma of the RPP, this is the farce of the CHP.

The scenes from distorted mentalities, a party leadership which is completely disconnected from the masses, disconnected even from the general accepted norms of its own society. A xenophobic attitude towards the “Arabs”, the great other of the Turkish Republic, the ones who stabbed us from the back, the Arabian Lawrance and other negative images on the Arabs propogated by the state elites from a long time which to one extent became intersubjective apparently for the high command.

Furthermore, the attitude of Mr. Sav towards the old man is another tragedy. Mr. Sav is not the Party General Secretary of the Communist Party nor the member of a poli-bureau. He is the General Secretary of a so-called Social Democrat Party which suprisingly still represented in the Soclaist International. Like Mr. Baykal he is one of the elders of the party actually. He is 71 years old, just the age for the General Secretary of a country whose population is 2/3 youngsters.  Mr. Sav is a lawyer and a former head of the Ankara incorporated law of society.

This is the first of our series of distorted mentalities, we will continue with other interesting figures…

(1). I dont know the full name of the old man, but from the Turkish media I learned that his first name is Mustafa.


June 17, 2008 - Posted by | Turkish daily, Turkish Politics

1 Comment »

  1. Onder Sav bu sefer sapa oturmus yani… Bu is yes mi, no mu olayi gibi de olmamis! 🙂 Bir insan bu kadar mi patavatsiz olur, bu kadar mi dikkatsiz olur yani. Hayret. Merak ediyorum, bu sefer ne diyecekler. 🙂

    Comment by Feyzullah | June 18, 2008 | Reply

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